Google Fiber Bundles TV, Shuns Data Caps
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unveiled the details of its fiber-fed service in the Kansas Cities Thursday, headlined by a 1Gbit/s symmetrical service that's free of usage caps and an IPTV video service bundle that features 160 HD channels, the Nexux 7 tablet and gobs of network storage.
Google Fiber will sell the standalone 1-Gig broadband service for $70 per month, and the Gigabit+TV service for $120 per month. Google will waive a $300 "construction fee" if customers agree to one- or two-year service contracts. Both services will bundle in 1 Terabyte of cloud storage from the Google Drive service.
Google Fiber will also offer a 5Mbit/s down, 1Mbit/s up service for free for at least seven years to customers who agree to pay the $300 construction fee. There will also be an option for customers to pay $25-per-month for 12 months.
Google Fiber Television
While everyone knew 1-Gig was in the Google Fiber plan, the company had been mum about its plans for a complementary video service.
In addition to live TV feeds (some popular channels like ESPN, AMC, TNT are missing from the initial list), the Google Fiber Television package will support a multi-room DVR capable of recording up to eight shows at a time, stream content from Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), YouTube Inc. and other over-the-top video sources. Google will also pitch in free Nexus 7 tablets with an app that turns the device into a TV remote control. Google's also designed an app to run on iOS devices. (See Google Enters Tab Market With Nexus 7.)
The video service will be run off a primary network box with four 1-Gbit/s Ethernet jacks and built-in Wi-Fi. To handle other TVs in the house, Google also has sleeker IP set-tops that also have Wi-Fi and Ethernet built in. All of those boxes will interface to an in-home storage box with 2 terabytes of storage -- enough to record 500 hours of HD.
Down the road, Google Fiber Television will integrate Google+ and other social networks, and support 3-D content and a video-on-demand service with "tens of thousands of shows."
"You don't have to settle for old style television anymore," said Google Access VP Milo Medin during today's webcast about the project -- an obvious shot at at his old cable pals (he was a key member of @Home, the cross-MSO joint venture that helped get cable's broadband era off the ground).
Rally for Google Fiber
Google will offer these services in what it calls "Fiberhoods" in Kansas City, Kan. and central Kansas City, Mo., but consumers will be called on to determine how quickly they can get Google Fiber. Google's urging them to pre-register (for $10) and, based on the volume of responses during the initial six-week "rally," will determine if and how quickly they'll get the goods.
Kevin Lo, GM of Google Access, estimates that consumers will need to get 40 to 80 of their neighbors to pre-qualify in order to have a shot at getting at the front of the line.
Amping up the competition
The area is already home to several providers of video and/or broadband, including Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse, SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) and FairPoint Communications Inc. , plus the satellite TV guys. But it's not clear yet if any of them have any big changes in store to counter Google Fiber as it starts to spool up services.
In response to Google announcement today, TW Cable spokesman Justin Venech said: "Kansas City is and has been a highly competitive market and we take all competitors seriously. We have a robust and adaptable network, advanced products and services available today, and experienced local employees delivering local service. We are confident in our ability to compete."
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- Google Fiber Goes 100 Miles & Counting
- Google Gets OK for Video Over Fiber
- Google's Fiber Project Hits a Snag
- Will Google Start a 1-Gig Fiber Renaissance?
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable